top of page
Meet the Team

As PAL’s Executive Director, Heather is committed to expanding access to the joys and therapeutic benefits of human-animal interactions while honoring the mutuality of the human-animal bond and nurturing a culture of kindness and respect.  Heather grew up surrounded by animal companions of many species and is grateful to her mother for instilling in her a reverence for nature and animals and an understanding of our interconnectedness.  A lifelong advocate for people and animals, Heather has volunteered with a therapeutic horseback riding program, fostered dogs, and practiced law.  She earned a graduate certificate in Animals and Human Health, B.A. in Psychology, M.A. in Women’s Studies, and J.D.  A native Washingtonian, Heather currently lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband and two dogs, Olivia and Winter.  In her free time, she likes to connect with friends and family, read, travel, watch soccer, and make music playlists.

kerri pic _edited_edited.jpg

Kerri Schepers
Coaching & Evaluations Committee Chair - volunteer

Kerri Schepers and her rescue dog Crusty started volunteering as a PAL therapy team in 2015, after Kerri had observed Crusty enthusiastically sharing his spunky and therapeutic spirit with everyone he met.  Since then, they have touched the lives of countless community members -- spreading joy and delight, providing comfort and support, and eliciting smiles and laughter.  Kerri is a critical member of the PAL Team, helping to design, improve, and implement protocols for screening, training, evaluating, coaching, and onboarding dog-handler teams. She also serves as a Group Leader for PAL’s weekly visits at Melwood, helps facilitate monthly Zoom sessions for prospective handlers, and assists with strategic organizational planning and community outreach.  When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all in-person visits, Kerri trained PAL volunteers how to visit on screen and visited on screen herself with her newly adopted dog Ricky.  In her free time, Kerri enjoys cooking, curling up with a good book, traveling, and helping furry pals at Humane Rescue Alliance by supporting adoption events.

Kelly with her two Wheaton terriers in L

As PAL’s Operations Manager, Kelly Grudziecki is thrilled to be part of the PAL team and grateful to have found a role where she can combine her skills with her passion and love for animals. Before coming to PAL, Kelly was the senior managing editor for a direct response marketing agency serving nonprofit organizations, where she oversaw all digital fundraising campaigns for the Alzheimer’s Association.  Before that, she spent 16 years with the Maryland Building Industry Association as director of internal communications, where she also helped plan and execute successful award and educational programs and networking events.  Kelly is a native Marylander, having grown up on the Eastern Shore with feathered and furry animals of all kinds. She earned a B.A. in communications from the University of Maryland, College Park where she played clarinet in the marching band. She lives in Olney, Maryland, with her husband Steve, and two spoiled dogs, Wylie and Quincy. In her free time, she loves cooking, painting, traveling, volunteering with dog rescue groups and has recently tried her hand at Pickleball.

Buck and Mommy_edited.png

Having grown up on a farm in Nelson County, Virginia, PAL’s Program Assistant, Betty Argenbright, has always loved animals.  For Betty, it is a dream come true to work with an organization where she can help others experience the love that animals can give and the power of the human-animal bond.  Betty has more than six years of remote administrative experience and more than ten years in client relations and retention. Previously, she worked as the Senior Commission Statements Coordinator for a large real estate brokerage, Side Inc., and as a Virtual Assistant for ContemporaryVA. Outside of her professional life, she has a wonderful husband, Brandon.  Together, they have five (grown and almost grown) children, Caleb, Alyssa, Cady, Coen, and Wyatt, and one “fur baby,” Buck, a hound-lab mix. Their free time is spent together, hiking, having family game nights, watching movies, and swimming.


Lisa Jacques
Visit Requests Committee Chair - volunteer

Lisa Jacques and her PAL pup Willey have been volunteers with PAL since 2015, helping students of all ages de-stress, bringing confidence to young readers, and eliciting smiles and comfort at retirement homes, shelters, and countless other PAL host sites.  Lisa and Willey got their PAL start with the Arlington Public Library PAWS to Read program and have visited every Arlington Library branch.  Lisa works with PAL staff to evaluate applications for therapy dog visits and to design successful and effective visits in collaboration with PAL’s community partners.  She also serves with Willey as a “neutral dog-handler team” at Team Evaluations, coaches new therapy dog-handler teams, and serves on PAL’s Board of Directors.  Lisa’s hobbies include attending Nats games, visiting all of Major League Basball’s ballparks, and volunteering with PAL!

Earl Strimple, DVM
Founder & Chairman

Jessica Brede Eisenberg

Toni Billingslea

Sheila Cohen

Gwen Davidow

Evan Gottfried

Dawn Mancuso

Dr. Donna Snyder

Lisa Jacques

Justin Zelikovitz, Esq.

Board of Directors
bottom of page